Dimitris Rapidis

Harry was born in 1977 in Athens, Greece, and grew up in Corinth. He is a teacher of English Legal Terminology in seminars for lawyers, PhD in EU Law (from Athens University), barrister in the Supreme Court of Athens and convinced federalist. Harry is President of the European Federalist Party in Greece, Programme Manager in the Board of EFP, member of the Administration Committee of Drassi (Greek Liberal Political Party, ALDE) and candidate for the European Parliament with the Greek joint list “Bridges”, supporting ALDE.

1. Is there any policy plan to address sky-rocketed youth unemployment in the EU?

The European Union should solve the problem of youth unemployment by changing itself and its institutions. The European Central Bank should undertake the responsibility to contribute to the growth of the economy and to create new jobs. Such powers of the ECB require amendments in the EU Treaties. The European Federalist Party explicitly ask for such amendments and changes in its programme voted in Brussels in November 2013. We hope that we shall influence other political parties to promote and establish such amendments.

A second solution from the EU to tackle the problem of youth unemployment should be the adjustment of the EU programmes to the real needs of the markets rather than spending money with no results. Moreover, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council should prioritize the problem of youth unemployment and they should operate towards the direction of harmonizing different national policies for the solution of the problem. Finally, the reasonable growth of the economy should be based in a New Green Deal for the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, while connecting universities’ studies with market’s needs based on the improvement of research and innovation programmes.

2. Why we have not witnessed any concrete growth plan for debt-ridden member-states in the EU so far?

In my opinion, the essence of any growth plan for debt-ridden member-states in the EU is related to the problematic functioning of the Eurozone. It is practically, and even theoretically impossible to have one currency and at the same time 18 ministries competent for the relevant policies. We need a Banking Union, and we need a Federal Europe, at least in the Eurozone. Any growth plan requires the institutional support of all the EU institutions, including the ECB and the changes I described in my previous answer.

The Community method should also apply in the Eurozone and the equal footing doctrine should ensure the EU evolves towards a true Federal Union. In a European Federation there shall be concrete growth plans, provided that we follow the aforementioned steps.

3. Do you believe that the EU is faced with democratic deficit?

It is well-known that one of the major issues in the EU is its democratic deficit. The EFP and I personally support the idea of a true democratic Federal Union in which citizens decide on who governs them based on political programmes through elections. The coming European Elections are very important in the sense that we will have the chance for the first time to elect the President of the European Commission. In a true Federal Union it is evident that democracy prevails.

4. When addressing political integration in the EU, what we literally mean according to your opinion?

Political integration for Europe means a European Federation.

5. What is your opinion regarding the current crisis in Ukraine? Should the EU feel more concerned?

We need a strong and integrated European Army. We cannot do politics or diplomacy by words only. The US and Russia have one diplomacy, one policy, one army. We need – as a European Federation- to have all these. Otherwise we will experience different soft policies without gaining respect from the other major global powers. We should first decide on our common future and then we will be able to solve a crisis in Ukraine or elsewhere. For the time being, the EU should balance its interests and keep the communications channels open with US and Russia, including accelerating the procedures towards an energy policy less dependent on Russian resources. We need the US and Russia , and we should make clear that they need us too. The crisis in Ukraine is very complicated and requires delicate handling by the EU.

6. Do you believe that Dublin Regulations on Immigration should be revisited to enhance burden-sharing from all member-states?

A whole different strategy on immigration is needed. In my opinion, unemployment and illegal immigration are two hot problems in the EU and its member-states. I believe that a European Federation could deal with such problems more efficiently. We should convert immigration from a problem to a solution by working systematically towards smoothly absorbing people who are willing to work in a variety of jobs that Europeans are not willing to accept (for instance, cultivation of land). We should specify the number of immigrants we need to follow the procedures of other federations, such as Australia. We should publicly announce which places may be covered by whom and in an organized way we should host immigrants in a human way to make them feel that Europe is their home.

7. According to your opinion, in which policy fields should the EU focus more in the next five years?

The EU should become a European Federation. So, the EU should focus on its own restructuring, evolution and integration. Simultaneously, the EU should prepare and enforce long-term growth plan by reducing taxes and state entities to give space to private sector and young people to create, innovate and work. The European dream (as opposed to the dollar as the ultimate goal of the American one) should be developed by the EU, by the European Federation – the free development of each citizen’s personality in a society which balances economy and social needs in a healthy green environment. An example could be a high provision of social benefits and care tied with vanguard in economic freedom.

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